COMMENT: Minor delays at our ports are a small price to pay to ensure border security
HERSELF and I returned the other week from a short trip to Normandy where we not only took the opportunity to count the calvados trees and monitor this year's progress, but were also the guests of a couple of old friends whose wedding we'd attended in their home village exactly 50 years earlier.
I'm tempted to say that anyone who hasn't been to a French golden wedding party has not yet completed their education and I'm torn between referring to a demand for 'two aspirins and shut the lid on the box quietly' and one for the Alderney breakfast – otherwise known as two lightly poached paracetamol – to describe the 'morning after' feeling. Suffice to say that it was the mother and father of all parties and, for someone like me who is as proud of his Norman heritage as he is of being a crapaud, it was made all the better by the flow of an excellent vintage calvados made from apples picked from their trees in 1967.
After an extremely pleasant few days we returned home and, like everyone else returning with their cars on that particular journey, we were subjected to a bit of a delay between getting to the top of the ramp and actually clearing Customs and Immigration before heading off to Chez Clement.
I have to say that the process was a good deal quicker than my earliest memories of it, which usually related to a vomit-inducing overnight trip on one of the British Railways boats, followed by a lengthy and slow-moving queue in a shed on the Albert Pier.
Customs officers ruled the roost there, with no green and red channels to improve progress and one was not allowed to emerge until given the nod by the final link in the chain – the officer who checked that all suitcases had been decorated with the magic chalk mark placed there by one of his colleagues.
As I said, progress these days is much swifter, despite the fact that officers have a little more to look out for than did their colleagues in the years which followed the German Occupation, what with illicit pills and potions, cartons of Moroccan Woodbines, terrorism and more recently illegal immigration.
Indeed, with that lot on their plate, I am surprised that border control officers manage to clear boatloads of passengers as quickly as they do, and for the life of me I cannot understand the attitude of those to whom Customs chief Dave Nurse was referring when he appealed last week for those disembarking from the ferries to be 'patient and understanding'.
What's the matter with these people? Are they that stupid that they can't see the absolute necessity for those maintaining security at our borders to be as stringent as they possibly can in the seemingly never-ending battle against drug smuggling, terrorism and illegal immigration?
And as for the online commentator who wrote that Mr Nurse's comments sounded to him like 'a weak excuse for a slip in standards', all I can say is that suggestions such as that seem to me to fly in the face of the evidence in the public domain about Jersey's efforts to combat drug smuggling, terrorism and illegal immigration.
No one likes being delayed when either starting a holiday or ending one, as we were the other week, but it really is a miniscule price to pay when one stops for a moment, places brain in operational mode, and considers the awful prospect of no vigilance at all. It really doesn't bear thinking about.
So give the boys and girls at border control a break and stop whinging over relatively short delays.
Beautiful, safe, fair and affordable is apparently what the public want Jersey to be. Some hopes. It's beautiful along parts of the north coast and in some valleys and, of course, when compared with Guernsey, it's safe, except in many areas of town where many of us wouldn't walk after tea-time, and on many of the Island's roads/race tracks it's fair, except if you're not in receipt of bonuses created by boardroom greed, and it's affordable only if you're several rungs up the housing ladder. Survey questions asked – survey questions answered.
AND finally…The fact that someone with more money than sense paid £73,000 for the J27 number plate and wants to remain anonymous made me laugh. They'll remain anonymous only until they take their expensive acquisition on the road to do their weekly shop at the Co-op.
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